That’s the way life works.
You get there first, you get the best ticket for Air Supply. What?
You get there first, you get the early worm, birdie.
You get there first, you get the first punt of the pigeon in Market Square.
You get there first, you get to work on saving the trapped victim.
Except not in Pittsburgh and this is all news to me and I’m still trying to wrap my brain around this.
If I’m understanding this correctly and I know you’ll tell me if I’ve got this wrong … in Pittsburgh, due to a union contract, firefighters are not to perform “rescues.” Instead, since 1977, paramedics have performed them. Rescues could be a rescuing a person trapped in an elevator or in a pile of rubble, or rescuing a person trapped in a car or in a well or swift-moving flood waters. Rescuing victims of a bridge collapse. Or rescuing the blogger cowering in the alley surrounded by a slowly advancing throng of angry pigeons holding ninja stars.
Here’s the problem for us, the potential rescuees waiting for our rescuers: it takes firefighters only between four to eight minutes to arrive on scene, with a majority of responses happening closer to the four-minute mark. The last available statistics for paramedics in Pittsburgh show that it took them an average of 17 minutes to respond to a call.
The paramedics are stretched thin going from call to call while the firefighters have a lot of downtime between calls.
And now the paramedics have rejected a new contract and authorized a strike because the City wishes to move rescue operations, as required by Act 47, to the firefighters to free up the paramedics to focus on medical calls.
Paramedics averaged 56,500 calls annually over the past four years, and the city is seeking help more often from medical teams in neighboring communities, said Joanna Doven, spokeswoman for Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.
Pittsburgh requested outside assistance 47 times in 2010; 124 times in 2011; and 127 times so far this year, she said.
Both the ICA and the city’s Act 47 financial-recovery team have recommended that the city move rescue operations to the fire department. City officials have been trying to do so since 2010, Huss said.
I’m so confused, because I thought that’s what firefighters were for. RESCUES. I thought the firefighters rescued and then the paramedics treated after the rescue, but that’s not how it works in Pittsburgh. The paramedics rescue and then triage and THEN treat, and the firefighters don’t step in unless something or someone has burst into flames, I guess. Or they sit around waiting for something to burst into flames.
The EMT union claims that the reason they are rejecting the contract is because of our safety. Firefighters aren’t trained well enough to rescue us, so it’s all about our safety and it’s all about you and me and it’s not at all about their jobs or overtime pay.
Let’s get a few things straight. I love paramedics and I know paramedics and I want them to have job security and paychecks and insurance. And please, if I’m in an accident, save me, paramedics. But if I’m stuck in an elevator I do not give a rat’s ass if it is a paramedic or a firefighter who comes to my aid. I care that they get there fast.
If a raging flood river is threatening to sweep away my car with my children in it, I don’t give a crap about anyone’s overtime pay. I care that my rescuer gets there lickety split to save me and my family.
I’m not saying I want to hurt the paramedics’ jobs. I’m saying I don’t understand why Pittsburgh can’t do this like most of the country does.
Why such the division between the two units?
Aren’t there enough medical calls to go around even if you let the firefighters do rescues? Would it be such a terrible thing to have PARTNERS in your rescue efforts for the good of the people you are serving and who you want to save?
If there are people trapped in cars, aren’t the firefighters already going to the scene along with the EMTs? So why not let them do the rescue and let the EMTs worry about the medical side of things? Doesn’t that just make sense?
Can’t the city form an elite team of people trained in both firefighting and emergency response medicine who will respond in eight minutes or less to the hardest, most complex of rescues while the rest of the EMTs and firefighters are trained in standard rescues? Wouldn’t it have been great to call that team to the Washington Boulevard flood tragedy? Like firefighting SWAT doctors?
And can’t the firefighters and EMTs trained in standard rescues then share rescue duties? So if the firefighters are busy, the EMTs head to the rescue. Or if the EMTs can’t get there for another 17 minutes, we send the firefighters who can get there in four because right now they’re sitting in the firehouse waiting for something to burst into flames? And if the rescue becomes more complex, they call on the elite team to step in and help?
If a building falls, can’t they all come and work together to save us?
Am I a stupid simpleton who has over-simplified a truly complex problem?
But it felt good to get it off my chest.
But P.S. Seriously, whoever gets there first, save me from the pigeons. I think I heard tiny nunchucks being bandied about and several pigeons are wearing wife-beaters and I think one of them is doing that Gangnam Style dance.
Kill that one first.